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7 tips for sleeping in the heat and humidity of summer

Rising temperatures don’t have to sabotage your sleep. Here are some tips and when to tell your doctor about night sweats.

Install a fan in the bedroom to cool down

If summer temperatures and humidity disturb your sleep, you are not alone. With temperature records set in certain regions of Europe this summer, the heat is at the rendezvous. And experts say it can definitely disrupt your sleep. Rising temperatures and changes in sunset and sunrise affect the duration and quality of sleep. Longer durations of light can make it harder to get to bed earlier, and the heat can keep you awake or cause you to walk in circles in a pool of sweat.

The bed is already a warm environment because less air circulates around you than when you are standing or lying in a hammock, for example. You (and your bed partners) also give off a lot of body heat.

When the ambient temperature around your bed is hot and humid (as can be the case in summer), it is difficult to sleep. Our body temperature drops by a degree or two just before and during sleep to conserve energy and help the body focus on other mechanisms, and it prefers to drift off to dreamland when the room temperature is a little lower than normal .

Tips for a good night’s sleep in the heat and humidity of summer

In addition to trying the temperature of your air conditioner (if you have one), try to relax and sleep well on the hottest summer days.

1. Keep the blinds closed during the day

To regulate the temperature, consider closing the blinds to reduce heat build-up during the day. While it might seem like a small change, it can actually make a significant difference. When closed, insulated blinds can reduce solar heat entering through the windows by up to 60%. Don’t want to invest in something that expensive? Even medium-colored fabric curtains with a white plastic backing can reduce heat absorption by 33%.

2. Avoid vigorous exercise, heavy meals and alcoholic beverages 4 hours before bedtime.

Mental and physical relaxation can help your body cool down physiologically. Try to avoid stressful activities, heavy meals and strenuous exercise in the evening as these factors tend to heat up our body. And if you drink alcohol earlier in the day, do so in moderation (up to one drink per day for women, up to two per day for men) and finish your drink at least four hours before bed. Research suggests that drinking too close to bedtime can disrupt sleep.

3. Use a dehumidifier and a fan

If you don’t have air conditioning or it’s not powerful enough, put a bowl of cold water and ice in your room. Place a fan behind the bowl and point it toward your sleeping spot to increase the cooling effect of the fan. If you live in a hot and humid area, try to keep the humidity between 50% and 60%, which is the ideal indoor humidity level.

4. Shower before bed

Speaking of hydration, a shower before bed can have a natural cooling effect. It might seem counterintuitive, but a systematic review of 5,322 studies published in Sleep Medicine Reviews in August 2019 found that a hot or warm shower one to two hours before bedtime can significantly improve sleep. Your body will feel relatively cool when it comes out of the shower at your home temperature, and will continue to cool as it prepares to rest.

5. Go on, sleep naked

There isn’t much scientific research on the effects of sleeping naked, but some people claim that sleeping naked helps them fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Sleeping without clothes can help your body maintain a cooler core temperature and promote better sleep due to the extra airflow and lack of layers. If you choose to sleep naked, remember to take a shower before bed to keep your sheets cleaner longer, and make sure you have comfortable beds so you don’t get too cold at night. If sleeping naked isn’t for you, choose pajamas made from natural fibers like cotton, light wool, or silk. A study published in the August 2019 issue of Nature and Science of Sleep found that sleepwear made from natural fabrics actually helped people fall asleep faster compared to synthetic materials like polyester.

6. Try a cooling mattress

In fact, traditional innerspring mattresses tend to offer cooler sleep than foam or latex mattresses. But many newer mattresses, foam or otherwise, come with temperature-regulating components.

7. Choose other refreshing sleeping accessories

There are pillows, sheets and pajamas made from materials selected to offer a slight cooling quality, but be aware that their cooling abilities are limited. Fabrics like bamboo and cotton are breathable and can wick away moisture, but they don’t actually change the temperature of the room. They can offer limited relief but have a better effect.

What to do if you always wake up sweating?

Whether it’s from a dream, stress, ambient temperature, or something else, waking up sweaty every now and then can be perfectly normal, even if you’re following all of these cool sleep tips. Sweating is a sign that your body is actively trying to cool itself down because it’s too hot. If you occasionally wake up during the night feeling slightly damp or sweaty, this can be considered normal.

If you wake up drenched in sweat almost every morning, you should use a thermometer to take your morning body temperature and see your doctor to see if your hot sleep isn’t due to an underlying medical condition or medications you’re taking. It is important that any underlying medical problems are diagnosed and treated. Finding a way to sleep cooler is also important because research shows that constantly sleeping at a temperature so high that you wake up sweating can lead to reduced sleep time and decreased deep sleep.

Certain medical conditions and medications can cause night sweats, including menopause, sleep disorders (like sleep apnea), cancer, and autoimmune diseases. Antidepressants and blood pressure medications can also cause morning sweats. If you are taking these medications and have severe night sweats, ask your doctor if it is possible to change the prescription or better regulate the temperature during the night.

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.

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